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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2009

IDHS’s Office of Family Health Promotes Infant Mortality Awareness Month
Campaign highlights disparities in infant mortality by hosting workshops to raise awareness

CHICAGO – With the United States’ ranking an all time low 29th in the world for Infant Mortality, the Illinois Department Of Human Services’ (IDHS) Office of Community Health and Prevention joins the rest of the nation in a campaign to increase the awareness of the high rate of infant mortality.  Premature birth, low birth-weight and shorter gestation periods account for more than sixty percent (60%) of U.S. infant deaths.  In Illinois, the current infant mortality rate is 7.4 percent (mortality rates based on per 1,000 live births).

“IDHS is committed to providing quality and adequate prenatal and primary care to women and infants throughout Illinois,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams Ph.D.  “We offer support services as well as administer programs that foster comprehensive family planning services in a strategic effort to combat the external factors that can contribute to the high death rates .”

The high infant mortality rate, the rate at which babies less than one year of age die, is partially due to the disparities between minorities and non-Hispanic whites.  The rates among African-Americans, Hispanics (particularly Puerto Ricans) and Native Americans are significantly higher than those of non-Hispanic whites.  African-Americans are four times as likely to die as infants when compared to non-Hispanic white infants. 

Some of the contributing factors of the disparities are: poverty, limited access to health care, stress and diet & nutrition. To address these factors, IDHS administers The Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, Title V of the Social Security Act, the only federal program devoted to improving the health of all women, children and families.  The agency uses these funds to provide preventive and primary care services to women, infants, children and adolescents throughout the state that work to eliminate the racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality. 

“We understands that infant mortality is a growing concern and we have made strides with successful programs and initiative here in Illinois to address the disparities,” said Dr. Myrtis Sullivan, Associate Director, Office of Family Health, IDHS. 

IDHS Programs such as Healthy Start help pregnant women seek the proper preconception and prenatal care in the first trimester as well as educate communities, providers, pregnant women and family members on factors that affect infant mortality such as smoking, substance abuse, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, medical problems, chronic illness, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).   A collaboration between the WIC and Family Case Management programs has substantially improved pregnancy outcomes among low income women.  In addition, the perinatal care program coordinates perinatal care services among regional hospitals so that women and infants receive risk-appropriate care.

To continue to raise awareness statewide, IDHS will host four workshops in October for professionals and providers as well as community members and clients of MCH programs to collect information, opinions, and perspectives from key stakeholders, to improve the needs of maternal and child health in Illinois.

For more information on the Division of Community Health and Prevention and the programs under Maternal and Infant Health, visit www.dhs.state.il.us

A list of the October workshops:

Metropolitan Chicago
October 2, 2009
9am – 12pm: Meeting for Professionals & Providers
1pm – 4pm: Meeting for Community Members & Consumers
University of Illinois at Chicago – School of Public Health
SPHPI Conference Room 932
1603 W. Taylor
Chicago, IL  60612

Southern Illinois
October 5, 2009
9am – 12pm: Meeting for Professionals & Providers
1pm – 4pm: Meeting for Community Members & Consumers
Rend Lake Market Place
Room 354 A&B
327 Potomac Blvd
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864

Central Illinois
October 6, 2009
9am – 12pm: Meeting for Professionals & Providers
1pm – 4pm: Meeting for Community Members & Consumers
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Auditorium
801 Sangamon Ave
Gate 11
Springfield, IL 62694

Northern Illinois
October 23, 2009
9am – 12pm: Meeting for Professionals & Providers
1pm – 4pm: Meeting for Community Members & Consumers
Kishwaukee College
Room A222
21193 Malta Rd.
Malta, IL 60150-9699



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